Getting Kids to Eat Their Veges Key Part of Ending Childhood Obesity
Getting kids to make brave food choices with fresh food they grow, harvest and prepare is part of the mission of the
Empower food education programme, which is marking World Obesity Day on 11 October with a great vegetarian pizza recipe
all kids will love making and eating.
The Empower programme, run by not-for-profit partners Garden to Table and Life Education Trust, equips Kiwi kids with
practical, hands-on knowledge about nutrition and growing food. It was launched in March this year and already, schools
all over the country have signed up.
Garden to Table Ambassador Niki Bezzant says one of the keys to solving the obesity crisis is education. "It’s a big
part of the picture when it comes to helping the next generation live longer, healthier lives than us. Programmes like
Empower, that help kids join the dots between growing, cooking and feeling good, are crucial.”
Food education programmes recommended by World Health Organization
In fact, food education programmes like Empower were recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a 2016 report
on ending childhood obesity. The report said nutrition and health education must be included in school curriculums, and
to make food preparation classes available to children, their parents and caregivers.
Life Education Trust Chief Executive John O’Connell said through classroom and practical hands-on learning, Empower is
designed to equip and empower children with the knowledge of a balanced diet, meal planning, key nutrients and how to
“The WHO’s report on ending childhood obesity identified the importance of teaching children in schools about nutrition,
and also food preparation. We support teachers to integrate NZ Curriculum-linked resources into their teaching – both
inside and outside of the classroom. Schools don’t need huge vegetable gardens or commercial kitchens to get involved
either,” he says.
Growing the vege love
One of the most effective ways to make a difference to our children's health is to make eating fresh, nourishing food a
joy, Garden to Table Executive Officer Linda Taylor says.
This week, she invites children to make a pizza using Niki's recipes (with a side of kale chips, perhaps!) and to post
photos of their efforts on Facebook
"It's easy and fun to include seasonal veges in your cooking, and letting children take the lead can be a great way to
get them involved. We're looking forward to seeing the creative ways children have prepared Niki's pizza recipe, using
lots of veges."